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    Karen HesterlyOffering private lessons in
    Weslaco, Texas
    About MeContact MeBlog

    Piano Student Diseases
    Posted by Karen Hesterly - March 2, 2017 - 10:03 AM

    Piano Students: there are some piano diseases going around and I want to be sure that you don't catch them. Here is what they are:
    Forgot to practicetosis
    Forgot my bookenza
    Technique blockulism
    In order to avoid these holiday diseases, here is what you must do:
    Play your piano every day
    Read your assignment books and follow the instructions
    Play Piano Maestro everyday.
    So I will see all my healthy students this week...
    This is my message to all parents this week. I thought you would enjoy reading it.

    Types of classes
    Posted by Karen Hesterly - February 17, 2017 - 12:03 PM

    Did You Know that Music Lessons help children
    *Learn pattern recognition and problem solving: reading music is learning to recognize patterns in the music and on the piano
    *Raise Self Esteem by doing something well
    *Improve Eye and Hand Coordination
    *Help Children to Concentrate for an extended period of time: in group piano or band not concentrating results in student playing a solo
    *Fosters Music Appreciation by learning all kinds of music styles
    *Provides Emotional Release: the piano is the place to go to relieve stress

    1. Kinder and Early Elementary:
    If you want to prepare your young child for piano, teach them to read so that their eyes know how to move left to right and listen to and sing folk songs, hymns and Disney tunes with them. Parents who have worked with their children at reading make good candidates for piano at an early age and should be willing to sit with their child each day to practice. Parents who want to start young children should be willing to learn a minimum amount so they can help their children with practice.

    2. Late elementary through middle school. Children are able to work independently at the piano with gentle reminding and encouragement to practice daily.
    Students begin with the folk songs, contemporary songs, and classical music after a few months.

    3. High school teen students may begin with folk songs, contemporary music and seasonal songs and chords, rounding out with classical music as soon as they are ready.
    Students this age are usually highly motivated and will work on their own.

    Transfer students will be tested and placed according to note reading ability.

    Having a piano for daily practice
    Posted by Karen Hesterly - February 17, 2017 - 12:00 PM

    The student must have an instrument at home before beginning the class.
    This is a piano class not a general music class so all students must have a piano, either acoustic or digital, with weighted keys at home for daily practice. Positive daily encouragement and appreciation at home is the best way to make sure your child will want to continue piano. Basic digital pianos like the Yamaha P45 have become so inexpensive, there is no reason to not have one from the beginning.

    Students who are involved with dance, karate, tutoring, etc. several days a week will not have time to keep up with a group class. As much as I would like to have your child as a student, please make sure your child not only has the time but the energy to practice daily. To learn to play well is a commitment of several years, perhaps until they graduate high school.

    Get all the benefit of private lessons in a small group setting. Students are heard individually through piano relay, where each student plays a portion of the music by himself/herself, then it goes to the next student to play the next portion. We also work together as one large piano student when learning a piece. Students learn to be disciplined and work on their own without a teacher hovering over every note.

    How important are recitals?
    Posted by Karen Hesterly - December 3, 2016 - 1:48 PM

    Many parents like for their students to participate in public recitals, so I do schedule recitals. I advise students that they must practice and learn their piece well enough to play it with the music almost perfectly. The intention is to provide a performance opportunity for those who will practice, and not to humiliate those who will not or cannot practice enough.

    When I was younger I had all my students perform, but I now advise students that if they want to be in the recital, they must be able to play the piece very well and memorize it if possible. I know how it feels to be so nervous that the keys on the piano seem like they are in the wrong place, so a student has to know their piece extremely well to overcome that fear. It is not easy for some parents to understand that I am looking out for the emotional health of their child and don't want to see them dissolve in tears in front of a big room full of other students and adults because they messed up.

    If you are a parent reading this, please have your student play their piece every day and even though I let them use the music, work on memorizing it so that they will know it as well as possible. It is much better to play a piece 4 times a day 5 days a week than to play it 20 times the day before the lesson or recital.

    Students are also encouraged to play their pieces not only for recitals but for friends, neighbors, church, nursing homes, school talent shows, etc. It is good to have at least one piece memorized for friends so that an unexpected performance opportunity will allow you to play. A few years ago I had a beginner adult who had had 2 lessons, play a duet with me at her church. It is never too soon to begin.

    Good luck to my students participating in the next recital!

    Fun Playing the Piano!
    Posted by Karen Hesterly - September 3, 2014 - 9:47 AM

    Is playing the piano fun? Of course it is, and a great emotional release to be able to play pieces that reflect your mood. A child who has played his piece at home well can't wait to get to a lesson to show the teacher!

    Is LEARNING to play the piano fun? For most students the first few weeks of piano are fun. For a few students who like to figure things out, it will always be fun. But for the other students it is work, and the fun doesn't begin until the work is done. The piano takes work and dedication and the end result of being able to play songs you love IS fun, but it takes a while to get there. Most students will need lots of daily encouragement and reminders to play the piano every day. If piano was so much fun all the adults would be lining up for lessons, but they know it is going to be work and take time. Yet there are educated adults who will put pressure on the teacher to make it fun for their child. A student who wants to take piano will be entertained by the study of the music and playing the piano and not have to be entertained by group games. However, teachers can liven up the lesson occasionally as well as at home study with the iPad and the use of apps to study piano.

    Some people don't want their child to be corrected in the lesson, however, a reasonable expectation is that the teacher be kind, considerate, have a sense of humor, plus high expectations for their students. Most teachers have worked hard to get their playing ability to where it is, and know what it takes to make a student better. This should be what the adult is paying for.

    Listen to your child. If they are complaining about piano in a class where the other students are fine, perhaps they don't really want to study piano or for some reason cannot or will not prepare for class, and you should consider another activity. The teacher cannot go home with your child and all he or she can do is show the child how to teach himself/herself at home. However, if the parent is willing to commit to make playing the piano at home encouraging and less lonely, then piano study will probably be a productive and relaxing activity.

    To study any instrument requires daily practice.
    Posted by Karen Hesterly - November 24, 2013 - 11:13 AM

    All students must have a piano in the home for daily practice at home on your piano. Get a piano before you start arranging lessons. Please don't expect to take lessons without an instrument to "see how they do first" or you are in for some very expensive babysitting. If someone is telling you that you don't need a piano for piano lessons, be very careful about signing up with that person or group. You would not sign up for band to play trumpet without a trumpet to practice on or send your kids to school without pencils to do their work and the same applies to piano.

    For an adult who is already a pianist you understand that an acoustic piano will allow your child will develop the best touch and that an acoustic pianois the sturdiest instrument which is very difficult to break. However there are very good reasons for a beginning student to get a quality digital piano like a Yamaha Clavinova. They have the ability to play fun background tracks at various speeds, the ability to use headphones if you are in a small space or apartment, and they don't require tuning.

    Piano requires a commitment on the part of the parent to provide an instrument and to understand your relationship with your child and whether you can work together. Do you and your child get along and will your child do the practice because you want them to or is your relationship difficult? Do you love music and listen to it in your home? Do you have a CD player and allow your child to use it? Do you or your child love to sing? Or is your child in a school or church where music is important and they come home singing songs? Can you encourage your child to hang in there for a few months when the going gets difficult and it becomes harder? Are you willing to ask to observe a class if your child is having a problem?

    Is your piano in a central part of the house away from TV and not tucked out of sight in their room? Have you always wanted to play the piano or do you play? Are you just willing to make the decision that this is important to your child's development and find the best music program that you can find? All of this is going to influence how they are going to do.

    Studio Policy
    Posted by Karen Hesterly - July 19, 2012 - 9:09 AM

    Learning to play the piano takes time and it is expected that all students signing up for piano plan to take lessons a reasonable amount of time to learn to navigate around the keyboard. Although the student will be playing with both hands within a month, students should expect to study two years to move out of the five finger position playing and to play beginning classical music or be able to play popular arrangements. To learn to play any instrument really well takes about 7 years.

    Studio policy: All lessons are charged by the month in advance. No charge will be made when the studio is closed for vacations at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break. For scheduled lessons, there is no refund for missed lessons. Lessons during the summer are scheduled around family vacations and students are expected to continue some of the summer with no charge for vacations. Any student missing a lesson is still expected to let me know in advance. For anything other than an emergency, it's best to let me know the week before. Students may be able to attend another group or if a private student, schedule another time.

    To be accepted as a student the student must have an instrument at home on which to practice.

    Practice at grandmother's or a friend's house or at school is just not going to last and will become a burden without an instrument at home. Students will need either an acoustic piano, a digital piano, or for the young child a touch sensitive keyboard at home to begin piano lessons and should expect to practice a few minutes at least 5 days a week. Please do not expect a keyboard to last longer than about 6 months of lessons if you are a teen or adult before you are asked to purchase a piano as a primary practice instrument to continue.

    Small portable keyboards are not suitable for piano lessons past the primer level as they are not full sized and do not have the same "touch" as a real piano. It doesn't take but a few months for older elementary and teens to get past primer level. The difference between them is enormous; comparable to driving a lawn tractor versus driving a car. Both have steering wheels, tires and gasoline engines but function very differently.

    Serious shoppers will find a way to locate bargains but remember that even a "free acoustic piano" will cost a mover and a tuning. All students who wish to study late elementary music though advanced music must have a full sized acoustic or digital piano. For digtal or acoustic pianos you can visit Valley Keyboards or Melhart's in McAllen. In Weslaco Hermes sells digital pianos.

    The following fees are on the Registration form:

    Summer Lessons may be scheduled around family vacations with no charge for vacations. Students are expected to continue most of the summer to maintain a place in the class.

    School Year: Payments are $18.00 per lesson paid by the month in advance and due on or before the first lesson of the month or by the 7th of the month. Payments made after the 7th of any month will have a $20.00 late fee added.

    Group lessons for September through May are $70.00 per month. This is for 35 lessons and the fee is still $18.00 per lesson. There are no refunds or credits for group student absences during the school year. Students who are planning to miss a class are expected to let me know as soon as possible. If you are planning to stop lessons, please let me know 30 days in advance. Students are expected to practice at least 5 days a week to maintain a place in the group class. If the student does not keep up, private lessons will be recommended. If the student would like to advance faster than the class, 2 private lessons per week are recommended.

    There are no openings for private students.

    Parking will be in front of the house, not blocking the mailbox, around the side of the house, or in the driveway. Please do not park in front of a neighbor’s house. Please do not beep your horn for the student to come out to avoid disturbing the neighbors. This is a residential area not a business location. If you need to leave right away, please come in and quietly get the student. Groups should be able to leave on time.

    Why Group Piano?
    Posted by Karen Hesterly - July 19, 2012 - 9:05 AM

    Almost everything done in music is with a group, whether it is school choir, band, orchestra, or playing for a church choir or congregation. Various classes are grouped by levels and age and each class works on the same material together as one big piano student. Group lessons offer some benefits not readily available with one-on-one teaching. Rhythm and listening skills are quickly developed as students play music together, learning the importance of musical cooperation, staying with the beat, and listening while they play. In group lessons, students' motivation to practice increases, friendships are formed, and the pieces played sound fuller and more interesting earlier in the learning process. Students play on full size digital pianos with weighted keys in my class.

    Being in group piano can be great fun for students who are or who can learn to be disciplined and do their assignments. Children who are extremely sensitive may have trouble with group lessons. Children must be able to accept correction and discipline without falling apart and crying and have parents who understand and can support their children in the process. Beginning piano is not that difficult if the student practices at least 5 days a week in the manner requested for at least 15 min. a day. However, if you find the student does not have time to practice 5 days a week for group piano, you may be able to find a private teacher who can take the student at a slower pace. Group piano is not for everyone, but is a great way to get a quality lesson, on a quality instrument, for the most time, for an economical price, and have fun with other students while doing it.

    Lessons should not only be educational, but fun and relaxing. Students will use a basic method book including theory, Classical Music, Scale Skills, Rock 'n Roll and Jazz, and Popular music. Supplementary music will include Christmas music for the Christmas recital and more advanced students may study music to play in their church for offertories or preludes. The spring and summer recitals usually includes any music the student has studied that they would like to play or recitals may have a theme.

    A Family Responsibility
    Posted by Karen Hesterly - July 18, 2012 - 7:27 AM

    PRACTICE: A family responsibility

    First, to get children to practice, there must be time and energy. Piano lessons plus one other activity is enough if you want your child to progress in piano. Parents who try to find something different each day after school or who give in to the children's demands to be involved in several activities are going to be disappointed when their children don't want to practice because they are tired. To insure optimal progress, sufficient practice time must be set aside while the child still has energy for the day. To force a tired child to practice results in a temper tantrum either at home or at the lesson and after a while the parent will give up on piano.
    Most beginner students do not have the concept of what regular practice means. It is up to the parents to instill that habit. For young students, this means sitting next to them or at least being in the same room while they practice. If the parents are musical, sure that helps a great deal, and if not, just by paying attention to what the teacher says in the lessons should give parents enough idea of what needs to be accomplished at home. Some students will just go practice by themselves like a dream, but the reality is that most need to be reminded, persuaded, or even bribed to do so. Practicing is hard work. It is not always fun, and it certainly is a lonely activity. Why would a 6-year-old want to sit on the piano bench all by herself/himself doing the same thing over and over? They wouldn’t!
    Time require for practice 5 x week: Beginner:15 min, Elementary: 30 min, Intermediate and up: 45 min.

    It is important to find a time when it is relatively quiet in the home for effective learning. Please respect the student’s practice by eliminating all distracting elements, such as TV, stereos and friends. Praise and encouragement are the parent’s greatest tools in helping a young musician. Sit down and listen to your child’s practice assignment immediately following their lessons. Then listen again just before the next lesson. Comment upon the improvement you hear.

    It is understandable that many students go on vacation in the summer and will not be expected to make up any missed lessons. There will be no charge for missed weeks except in the event that a student fails to show up when expected or fails to give sufficient notice. It is expected that you will give one week’s notice when you are going on vacation so that the time slot you normally hold can be used for someone else.

    Being in group piano can be great fun for students who are or who can learn to be disciplined and do their assignments. Beginning piano is not that difficult if the student practices at least 5 days a week in the manner requested for at least 15 min. a day. However, if you find the student does not have time to practice 5 days a week for group piano, you may be able to find a private teacher who can take the student at a slower pace. Group piano is not for everyone, but is a great way to get a quality lesson, on a quality instrument, for the most time, for an economical price, and have fun with other students while doing it. If the student does not practice enough to keep up with the group, private lessons with me or another teacher will be recommended.

    It is expected that a family who starts piano with a small electronic keyboard will rent or purchase a full sized digital or acoustic piano as soon as family finances allow. While it is possible to learn piano geography with a small keyboard, it is not a piano. Students cannot learn piano technique without a proper instrument.

    Please park in the driveway, in front not blocking the mailbox, or along the side of my house on Bougainvillea St. I would like to be good neighbors so please do not park in front of the neighbor’s house either to the side or across the street. Students may wait on the porch until their lesson time so as to not disrupt the current class.
    Unless you are the first class of the day, please arrive a couple of minutes early for the lesson and wait outside until the previous class leaves. If you are late, please come in. Please let your child know that he/she is late so that they do not wait outside. If it is raining or very cold, please wait in the car until your lesson time. If the student has dirt, mud or gum on the shoes, please remove the shoes inside the front door or outside.

    Dismissals: Regrettably, I will have to dismiss a student if any of these circumstances occur:

    *Failure to pay tuition on time
    *Persistent absences
    *Uncooperative attitude
    *Lack of progress due to insufficient practice or unfulfilled requirements

    How to get children to practice.
    Posted by Karen Hesterly - August 27, 2011 - 7:52 AM

    Praise. Children love to be praised. Praise them for finding the first note, for sitting up straight, for a good hand position or tell them you really like the piece they are playing. If you fuss at them they will tune you out. Sit and listen to them or dance around the room and act happy while they play. When I was a young student, I decided one summer to practice while my family was having lunch and my mother let me do it and eat after everyone was finished. I think I just wanted everyone to listen to me play the piano using practice as an excuse. Also, ask your child to play for neighbors or friends when they come to visit. Even if it's not the best playing, your friends will show their appreciation.

    It is a common misconception that children who are meant to play piano should not have to be reminded. Learning to play is difficult and everyone will have ups and downs, possibly even some frustrated tears when learning gets tough. If you will just have them practice daily to the best of their ability, corrections can be made at the lesson until it becomes easy. At some point the child will be able to sit at the piano and play for himself or herself and be glad he or she could do it. It only takes a few minutes a day for the first few years and learning to play can be so rewarding. By the time extended practice is required, the piano literature should be rewarding enough to get them to practice. At that point the teacher should help the student research music that would speak to them and make them want to learn.

    Fortepiano: Buying a keyboard
    Posted by Karen Hesterly - August 1, 2011 - 6:59 AM

    Fortepiano, Italian for Loud-Soft, was the original name for what we now call the piano. It is capable of playing loud and soft through the velocity of touch, unlike the harpischord or organ. Around 1700 Italian instrument maker Bartolomeo Cristofori developed a keyboard instrument that could play with expression and feeling. If you are buying a keyboard for your child or yourself instead of a piano, please make sure it is touch sensitive, or your student will be missing the capabilites of the piano since the invention of the piano. All the music of the Classical period and following with the Romantic period of piano literature will not sound as it was intended to sound. If you buy the least expensive keyboard you can find, the teacher and the student will be frustrated probably starting with 2nd year music because the student will not be able to practice at home on dynamics, loud and soft, in the music or on phrasing. The piano is an intimate instrument with capabilites of rise and fall in the musical line like the human voice which cannot be practiced if you do not buy a touch sensitive instrument. The difference will only be about $50-$60 in the purchase price of a 61 key keyboard. If you can afford a month of lessons, you can surely afford to purchase a sensitive instrument.

    Keyboards will be good as long as the student is in primer material and for the parent who just doesn't know what is involved in taking piano lessons. As soon as the student reaches level one in their lessons, they need a full sized digital or acoustic piano to practice on. Students whose parents refuse to get them a piano most likely will get discouraged and not want to take piano any more or the parent will get tired of me asking them to purchase a piano and take the student out. Learning to play piano is a long term commitment so students and parents must be willing to make the commitment and work through the highs and lows that goes with learning anything to be successful.

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    11 postings total

    Piano Student Diseases
    March 2, 2017
    Types of classes
    February 17, 2017
    Having a piano for daily practice
    February 17, 2017
    How important are recitals?
    December 3, 2016
    View All Blog Postings